Craig McDean

from 25 April to 26 May 2019

As President of the Jury at the 2019 Hyeres International Festival of Fashion and Photography, Craig McDean turns his eye towards an examination of the art of print making in his own work. Featuring vintage hand-printed photographs and work prints pulled from his studio archive and spanning a prolific period of his career between 1995-2000, this exhibition at the villa Noailles includes imagery from his iconic work for Jil Sander, Italian and British Vogue, W, and Harper’s Bazaar.

From the outset of his career in the 1990s, McDean collaborated with London based printers John Driscoll and Brian Dowling on his advertising and editorial work. Driscoll was a master of the black and white print, and McDean remembers his passion for the craft of the photographic print as “breathtaking”. Dowling, equally as passionate as a colour printer, could spend all day on a single print. McDean often spent hours in the darkroom with each of them, serving as an extra set of hands dodging and burning his own prints alongside them. He describes his numerous walks between their two studios in Clerkenwell as traversing “the golden mile”.

In those days, the retouching was done by hand by David Wayman. Together with the print making itself, this style of hand retouching resulted in a one of a kind physical object, nonexistent now with the digital files of contemporary photography. The crafting of a final print was a process which took place over a period of days, or weeks. The developing of his own negatives, studying of the contact sheets, then the many hours working through the various printing techniques before the final hand retouching was applied is a process now lost to the computer. The prints in this exhibition were made on the cusp of the end of the age of handmade prints and the beginning of the digital age of photography.

McDean honed his craft during this formative period. The exhibition seeks to display not only a capsule of his work during this incredibly prolific moment in time, but also to show collaborative work and passion for the print itself.

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